Dublin city council is imposing an ultra-low 30kph speed limit across the entire centre of the city to apply 24/7 with effect from Monday 31st January. It will apply even on wide thoroughfares like the North and South Quays , pointlessly frustrating ordinary traffic and infuriating careful motorists, according to the AA.
“There is just no sense in this.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “30 kph zones work when they are engineered properly, in traffic calmed areas where they are self policing. That’s what they are for. But applying them en masse on roads that are engineered for high volumes at flowing speeds is absurd. We have problems enough countrywide trying to end the scourge of badly set speed limits without the capital city making a mockery of sensible road design.”
The AA believes that this is a significant mistake which will serve only to damage the reputations both of Dublin City Council and also of road safety campaigners who are trying to persuade drivers that speed limits should be respected.
The facility for Local Authorities to apply a 30kph limit was introduced in the Road Traffic Act of 2004 in the context of the switch to metric units. The ultra-low limit was designed to be used in specific locations, such as pedestrian-rich environments, shopping streets and school gates. It was never imagined that there would be a blanket imposition across a very large area.
“This appears to the AA to be more about ideology than reason.” Says Faughnan. “In road safety terms Dublin City is one of the safest places in the country. The road safety justification does not exist, and nor is there any reason to believe an assertion that a 24/7 30kph limit will improve traffic flow. You don’t even get any carbon benefit out it.”
The AA has always argued that for speed limits to be respected and observed they have to be logical, rational and consistent. Speed limits that are self-evidently inappropriate do not improve safety; quite the reverse. They undermine respect for speed limits generally. This leads to a population that may be on the lookout for speed traps but do not believe in the limits themselves.
30kph limits were designed to be introduced in conjunction with engineering measures and traffic calming so that they are effectively self-policing. In applying it to thoroughfares Dublin City Council is acting beyond the scope envisaged in the Road Traffic Act of 2004 and is presenting an absurd and unnecessary enforcement challenge for Garda which is wasteful of their resources.
“Dublin City Council will create a situation whereby general traffic on the Quays will be artificially slowed to 30kph even at 5 o’clock in the morning.” Says Faughnan. “ This runs counter to the engineering of the route and is against all the instincts of a smooth and careful driver.”
General traffic in Dublin moves at an average speed of no more than 12 or 13 kph during the working day, so many might say that it will have little practical effect most of the time. Nevertheless the AA believes this is an unfortunate and regrettable decision which will frustrate motorists, do no good at all for road safety and will undermine the credibility of both Dublin City Council and of the Road Safety Strategy generally.
The new limit will apply to busy roads like Parnell Street, O’Connell Street, College Green, Dame Street, Dawson Street, Kildare Street and the North & South Quays from Tara Street to Fr Matthew Bridge near the Four Courts.